Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
LANSING March 11, 2015– Last fall’s U.S. Congressional races in Michigan yielded no surprises: Republicans maintained control of nine of Michigan’s 14 Congressional districts, as pretty much everyone expected.
That means, despite receiving only 49% of the vote state-wide, they hold 65% of our Congressional seats. (Source: Ballotpedia)
Does that seem fair to you?
It’s clear Michigan residents are not having their voices properly represented in Washington, and we have gerrymandering to thank for that. Every ten years, the party that controls the legislature in Lansing is tasked with re-drawing Congressional districts across the state. In 2011, the last time districts were re-drawn, Republicans were in control, and drew the lines in such a way that would give them the the greatest likelihood of controlling Michigan’s Congressional delegation for the next ten years, but which in no way represents a fair representation of Michigan’s residents. Republican lawmakers contorted and stretched the district lines to give them a distinct advantage– they gerrymandered.
Now those same Republican lawmakers are hoping to use their gerrymandered Congressional districts to give them an unfair advantage in presidential elections as well, and one of west Michigan’s lawmakers– Thomas Hooker– is behind the legislation. From Michigan Public Radio:
A bill that would change how Michigan allocates its electoral college votes is back in the mix in Lansing.
Republican state representatives Cindy Gamrat, Todd Courser, Thomas Hooker, and Gary Glenn introduced the bill this week.
It proposes that each of the state’s 14 Congressional districts gets one electoral vote — with the two remaining votes going to the statewide winner.
Right now, whichever presidential candidate wins the overall vote in Michigan claims all the state’s 16 electoral college votes.
A similar bill was introduced in last year’s lame duck legislative session, but never came up for a vote.
Democrats slammed the idea then, calling it a blatant scheme to squeeze Republican votes out of a state that has voted for Democrats in every Presidential election since 1988.
None of the bill’s co-sponsors could be reached for comment late Friday. The legislation has been referred to the House committee on elections.
So just how unfair could this legislation be to Michigan voters if it gets passed? Consider the 2012 presidential election:
Barack Obama received 54% of the vote in Michigan, while challenger Mitt Romney received just under 45%. Under Michigan’s current electoral law, which awards electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, President Obama received all 16 of Michigan electoral votes.
Under the proposed legislation, which would award electoral votes by Congressional district, Romney would have received nine of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes (56% to Obama’s 44%), despite losing the statewide popular vote by 9 percentage points to President Obama.
And even though Republicans are behind the current legislation, many conservative pundits agree that changing the way we award electoral college votes is wrong and goes against the founding fathers’ intentions.
Conservative commentator George Will wrote against an effort in Pennsylvania to re-write electoral college laws in 2011:
Republicans supposedly revere the Constitution, but in its birthplace, Pennsylvania, they are contemplating a subversion of the Framers’ institutional architecture. Their ploy — partisanship masquerading as altruism about making presidential elections more “democratic” — will [open the country up to even worse election reforms].
The other problem with the proposed legislation is that it will open Michigan up to national scorn and potential lawsuits, should a popular vote winner in Michigan ever receive less electoral votes than the loser.
“[The proposed plan] would likely bring national media scrutiny and mockery of Michigan’s ‘strange’ electoral procedures,” Matt Grossmann, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University said in testimony in a state House committee meeting in December.
When a similar bill was introduced by Republicans last December, the Kent-Ionia Labor Council led a grassroots campaign in west Michigan to kill the bill, and lawmakers listened. Please contact your state representative to let him or her know that this new legislation– House Bill 4310– is undemocratic and unfair to Michigan’s voters.